Monday, July 28, 2014

Dryer Tub Planter

I took the tubs out of our old dryer and made them into planters. They don't have a bottom but that is alright. My neighbor did it with her old dryer first so I can't claim it as my idea. I did spray paint it white and then put the rings of red but couldn't keep it straight. It was harder than I thought it would be. I put a miniature red rose in the center and then put vinca and portulaca around the rose. The vinca and portulaca are annuels so they will die when it freezes. I can put in the same next year or something different. Tuffee our Border Collie likes to help water. Photos of coreopis, althea, vitex, blue sage with a bird water stand in the center, and morning glory. I have morning glories everywhere coming up from seed from last year.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Baby Birds

Yesterday the baby birds were all flying and flycatchers were chasing the old cat Murphy that follows us to the hay shed when we feed the horses. Murphy always comes back to the house with us when we are through. He didn't know what to think of those birds attaching him. I think one even grabbed some fur. The certainly weren't afraid of him. In the afternoon I watched the parent flycatchers teaching the chicks to catch bugs 'on the fly' they were using the low power line right behind our house as their launch site. They all got highly upset when a roadrunner came into the yard for a drink of water. The flycatchers would dive bomb the roadrunner and it even looked once as if a flycatcher actually hit the roadrunner on the back. Poor roadrunner was never able to get a drink. Finally it went and hid in the neighbors wild sunflower patch. I figure it went on to the next neighbors who has chickens with water out. The flycatchers stayed here so maybe it was able to get a drink there. I had the camera and got a couple of so-so shots of the roadrunner but was unable to get one of the flycatchers dive bombing it. Would have made a great video.
The baby hummer is learning to use the feeder and helps its mom chase off the other hummers.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

More Desert Flowers

More desert wild flowers. First is the desert primrose, then our state flower the Yucca, and some clarete cup cactus

Desert Wild Flowers

I rode out across the desert mesa west of our house and it was so dry from the drought. But a week later we did get some rain. About an inch in a half an hour so of course most of it just ran of til it landed in a low spot in the landscape. We did have another much slower rain but not so much. We can use lots and lots more before this drought is stopped. But I did find a few wildflowers and here are a few of the photos. Most are of the chola cactus, (some call it jumping cactus as it seems as if it jumps at you if you just barely touch it) which have beautiful reddish-purple flowers. I don't know the name of the clump of white flowers but they look so delicate on the desert. The last  are of a big clump of Apache Plume and then closeups of the flowers.

Saturday, July 05, 2014


Previous post was on the hummingbirds in my yard. This one is on the flycatchers. Flycatchers are a bird not quite as large as a robin.  I encourage flycatchers as much as I can because as their name says they catch flies and lots of other flying bugs. Its quite a sight to see them swooping across the yard catching bugs while flying. They catch bugs on the ground but prefer to catch them while in the air. Most years I have noticed they have nested in the neighbors yard but this year we had a pair nest in the cottonwood tree by our hayshed. At first they were afraid of us each time we went to the shed to get hay for the horses or water the horses or trees that are nearby. Gradually they have become so used to us they don't seem to pay us much attention. The first nest they built came down in a wind storm in the early spring but they went at it again and soon had a better nest. I could watch them working since the tree hasn't put on as many leaves as it should have due to the drought we have been having here in New Mexico. Soon the pair of birds were taking turns sitting on the nest and I assumed there were eggs in it. I can't tell the male from the female as both are the same color = gray on their back and wings and a pretty shade of yellow on their front with a black stripe across their eye. I call them flycatchers as that is what I was told thy were as a child but some of the books I looked at called them King birds. I will continue to call them flycatchers. In a few weeks there were cheeping noises and I could see tiny beaks sticking up out of the nest when a parent bird would come in. Soon I could see 3 little baby bird heads. Now I am able to see the chicks better and can tell they are growing feathers. Here are some of the photos I was able to take of the nest. The nest is about 15 feet up the tree and I have a good Cannon camera with a nice zoom lens.

Friday, July 04, 2014


For the first time, that I know of, I have a hummingbird nesting in my yard. The nest is in my Bradford Pear Tree and as close to the house side as she could make it. I can look up at the bottom of the nest which is about 6 feet up. My husband can almost look into it. The female is the only one that takes care of the chicks and this one is very shy when I am around the nest. The 2 chicks were probably a week old when I first realized they had hatched. I could just see the tops of their heads and their bills. This is a good mama bird who put the nest so that it is sheltered by 2 large leaves so the babies have lots of shade when she is out getting food for her chicks. This tree has lots of leaves and there is a sparrow nest in the center of the tree that I can just barely make out since it is so covered with leaves. I have always seen a few hummers around here but never put out feeders as I figured that the sugar water would get so hot during our 90 to 100 degree days that the little birds might scald their selves. Plus we have lots of ants and bees that would get into the feeders. But with the nest I went and bought 2 small feeders. It only took about 2 days for the hummers to find them. I don't fill them full and replace it at least once a day. I tested some 'hot' sugar water on a 100 degree day at the hottest part of the day and was surprised it wasn't but about body temperature on my fingers. I don't use the commercial food for the feeders. I use 1 cup of sugar to 4 cups of water. I let it come to a boil for 1 minute then cool. You can half this but it keeps well in the refrigerator.  I do have some bees around the feeders but no ants have found them. I have noticed that the flies flock to where the feeders drip out sugar water when they swing in the wind. I hung them with some metal curtain hooks I had as a temporary thing when I first did them but it has worked so well I have continued to use them. The curtain hooks are on the string that came attached to the feeder. The 'hook' on the curtain hook is about an inch wide and fits on small tree branches. Perfect. Sad to say one of the chicks died a few days ago for a reason that only Mother Nature knows of. I found it hanging on the side of the nest but couldn't see any injury to it so I disposed of it. I wondered at first if something had happened to mama or she had abandoned them. But soon saw her feeding the one that was left. I did call the Wildlife Rescue Center to get their advise and to see what their hours were for dropping off orphans and was glad I didn't have to take the baby to them. I raised a baby robin when I was a teenager but knew that with 4 cats in the house there was no way I could raise the hummer. Last night I was scared for the hummers and the nest of 3 flycatcher chicks we have in another tree when we got the worse, (or maybe best considering our drought) wind and rain storm we have had in years. We got and inch of rain in a half an hour just at dark. I did go out afterward with a flashlight and checked for baby birds near their trees and was glad I didn't see any. I didn't actually look in the nest as I didn't want to disturb mama. And, yes, this morning I saw mama, and the baby and all the flycatcher chicks. It is amazing how they can protect their chicks in a storm like that. I a sure the flycatcher parents were drenched as they don't have the leaf shelter that the hummers have. Here are photos if the baby on the nest and the parent at the feeder. And, no, I am not sure what kind of hummers they are. I think they may be the Broadtailed hummingbird from the photos I looked at on a site on New Mexico hummers. If not they are the rufous hummingbird.